The Most Telling Game of the Night: Our Sainted Icon, the inestimable Dread Pirate Leach, led his Cougars into Provo to take on the Cougars of the local variety. It ended badly, thanks to a brutally efficient BYU defense, a brutally awful Wazzu defense, and the vagaries of the Air Raid system. The Air Raid is not an offense you can plug in and win with right away, as it requires having personnel you've handpicked for their jobs (preferably ones who've run a similar offense in high school) and drilled incessantly so their roles are second-nature. So while most of the college football world has high hopes for the Pirates of the Palouse, it's probably not going to happen this year. Still, they're worth watching to see them grow as they adapt to the system.
BYU, on the other hand, may be frightening. They looked good last night, kids... really good. The beatdown was not even remotely attributable solely to WSU's stuttering grasp of the Air Raid; BYU's defense appears able to play with just about anyone, and their offense -- albeit the beneficiary of some atrocious play on the part of the Wazzu defense -- looks capable of putting points on the board. BYU has what appears to be a strong enough schedule to dodge any arguments about not playing anyone, while at the same time not facing any truly brutal challenges. They could be this year's outsiders crashing the party.
Enjoy Washington State's take from Coug Center's Mark Sandritter: Washington State Struggles In All Phases, Loses 30-6, and the BYU take from Vanquish the Foe's Keith Harten: BYU Defeats Washington State 30 to 6.
And the rest of the interesting action from last night:
They Haven't Mastered Referee Funding Yet: It was an ugly game, if we're going to be honest. But it came down to a brutal contest at the end, and when the Gamecocks' D.J. Swearinger mugged Vandy's Jordan Matthews on a fourth-down pass play which failed to draw a flag, Vandy's hopes were yet again dashed. South Carolina wasn't particularly impressive, especially on offense; Connor Shaw, in particular, is going to have to learn how to properly run with the ball so as not to get himself killed by October. He's not Collin Klein, and left the game for a time after having his bell rung at one point. Their defense is kinda scary, though. Vandy, on the other hand, is playing with a ridiculous amount of swagger, and they could do anything from melting down to winning the SEC East. Keep an eye on them.
You can check out Gamecock Man's recap at Garnet and Black Attack: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Vandy's take from Anchor of Gold's Christian D'Andrea: Fate Remembers Vanderbilt Fondly, Drops 'Dores.
Victim The First: The first FCS/FBS upset of the night belonged to the McNeese State Cowboys, who ripped off 24 points in the middle two quarters to build a 24-6 lead on Middle Tennessee State. A furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Blue Raiders fell short, and the Southland's Cowboys not only scored a divisional upset, but did so on the road.
Victim The Second: Idaho's year just keeps getting worse, and they may start re-thinking that decision to remain in FBS as an independent at this rate. Eastern Washington, who won the 2010 FCS championship before having 2011 derailed by injuries to the entire offensive line, reloaded at QB with former SMU snap-taker Kyle Padron. So it's not surprising that they're good, and probably also not surprising that the Eagles marched into Idaho's Kibbie Dome and marched right back out with a 20-3 win.
But Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln: It was a good day for the WAC otherwise, as Utah State manhandled FCS squad Southern Utah 34-3. Southern Utah's Brad Sorenson, a legit NFL prospect and prime contender for the Walter Payton Award (the Heisman for FCS) was completely stymied by the Aggie defense, which may dampen expectations. New Mexico State, meanwhile, did something Oregon State couldn't manage last year: they beat FCS Sacramento State, and did so handily. Andrew Manley had 367 passing yards and three TD strikes, and the other Aggies won 49-19.
Not Ready For Prime Time: FBS newcomers Massachusetts seem, somehow, to have gotten worse despite the addition of 22 scholarships in the move up. Connecticut held the Minutemen to 59 yards of offense in a 37-0 beatdown. Andrew Porter of The UConn Blog offers his take: As good a start as we could ask for, while The Hustle Belt's Matt Sussman discusses the UMass debacle (as well as the rest of the MAC action): UMass Learns What It's Like.
Doesn't Bode Well Either: Georgia State isn't FBS just yet, but doing things like losing 33-6 at home to South Carolina State isn't the way to prepare for the move up. Bill Curry, y'all.
Same As It Ever Was: Minnesota just loves to live dangerously, I guess. For about 55 minutes, the Gophers and UNLV played a completely unwatchable football-like contest, then things went HAM. Tying the game on a 21-yard Jordan Wettstein FG late in the fourth, Minnesota almost won the game in regulation on what looked like a muffed punt which Minnesota may or may not have recovered in the end zone; however, the officials ruled it a touchback and the game went to overtime. After two extra periods of TD/PAT from both teams, Derrick Wells picked off Sherry again (his second interception of the evening) on UNLV's possession in the third OT; Wettstein then connected on a 32-yarder to give the Gophers an exciting 30-27 win in the season's first overtime contest. The Daily Gopher's Jeffrick provides the Minnesota recap: : Minnesota Gophers beat UNLV 30-27 in 3 OT's.
I Don't Know That This Proves Anything: Arizona State absolutely destroyed Northern Arizona, and while some are of the opinion that this was a blistering win over a potential FCS playoff contender, the reality is that NAU "only" returned 15 starters from a team which wasn't awesome last year... so the Sun Devil faithful putting any stock in this win may be disappointed. Brad Denny over at offers the ASU perspective: Sun Devils Annihilate Lumberjacks 63-6 in Todd Graham's Debut.
Don't Try This at Home: Towson returned 19 starters and looked poised to build on a fantastic 2011 playoff season; indeed, I actually expected them to beat Kent State. Not so much, it seems, as the Golden Flashes ripped the Tigers 41-21. Of course, the real news of this game is what we'll close today's festivities with: it will probably be the most hilarious play of the 2012 season.